Thursday, October 5, 2017

"I am supposed to be here. So are you."

I was scrolling through Facebook when I happened upon the Wheler Conference 2017 live feed from Cazenovia College, Dr. Greene was speaking and I thought, "I remember him, let's see what he's talking about."  He was starting to introduce Jennifer Hartwell, M.Ed.  I am so glad that I stopped to listen. Her story resonated with me, it was similar to my story of acceptance to Cazenovia College.  A perfect song to listen to while you read this is, Madisa "Overcomer."

I was too have felt many times that I am not supposed to be where ever I am at that time because I was being judged on my aptitude.  I was one of those students who struggled thru high school. I was always just an average student, but my grades in my art classes brought up my GPA.  I remember my uncle saying to me, "don't be surprised if you don't get accepted to college."  Well luckily I didn't let that stop me from applying to Cazenovia College.  I was accepted to Cazenovia with a list of conditions and was more that happy to follow those, as Caz was my #1 choice but also the only college I applied to.  Cazenovia College was the only college I wanted to go to.  Thankfully God agreed with the Admissions Department and I was accepted.  I graduated from Cazenovia College in 1991 and then transferred to SUNY Cortland.  I don't have as clear memories of being accepted there and I don't even know why I applied there.  I graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1993.  My grades in academic classes were never the best, but my major classes in Art were what carried me through.  I believe I graduated with a 2.2 GPA.  It was my talent that got me through, my gift that was all part of  God's plan for me.  I do think that part of his plan was to feel struggle, so that I could feel true accomplishment.

Since happening upon Jennifer Hartwell's presentation I have replayed it so that I could take better notes to share her message more clearly and accurately.  Her words were exactly what I needed.  I am so glad that she shared your story and her life lessons.  I am going to have my son watch the presentation later as he too has had his own struggles his first semester of college.  A lot of us have been in those shoes, failing but not able to admit it to your parents.  Sometimes a person needs to hit rock bottom in order to lift themselves back up and learn from their mistakes.  Not all cases are the same but when you have that moment you know.  The thing that is so hard for kids to understand is that we have all been there.  It's important too keep our communication about school open and keep us up to date on grades with your kids. Remind your kids that you can always change your path.   Many of us didn't know back then what we wanted to do, and many of us changed our majors 1 or more times. My husband got a degree in geology and has a successful career in computers.  Computers have always been a compassion of his.  He is self taught and continues learning in the ever changing world of computers and technology.

I went to college hoping to be an art teacher.  I was a studio art major on a waiting list to go to SUNY Buffalo for the Art Ed program.  But by the time I graduated from SUNY Cortland I just wanted to be done with school and get a job.  I was lucky and got a job managing the local Frame & Art Shop with benefits.  I did that for a few years until I got married and moved to Rhode Island.  Deep down I always knew that the career I wanted didn't have a degree program, but I needed a back up plan.  I always knew that I wanted to be a full time, stay at home wife and mother.  Ever since my children started school I was involved and volunteering in school and scouts. I did become a substitute teacher and I was the Art teacher at a local Catholic School the last year it was open. For the past 15 years I have been taking care of everyone else, saying yes to almost everyone's requests.  The word no didn't come out of my mouth very often when I was asked to help someone.  In June my youngest graduated from elementary school and moved up to middle school.  I don't know what it is but when you get to middle school the schools don't ask for volunteers as much.  So I decided focus more on Girl Scouts this year.

Service to others has always been part of me.  So when Jennifer shared her secrets for a "Service Driven Life" they resonated with me so much that I want to share them with you.  These life lessons are things that I have tried to focus on personally and in my role as a Girl Scout Leader.  These life lessons are things that my parents taught me, based on basic morals and principals.  Be nice to others, think before you speak, believe in yourself and others, and you can do it.  My father always says, "Do your best and let God do the rest."  "With God all things are possible."

A Service Driven Life Lessons 
from the 2017 Wheler Family Conference on World Affairs on Service
by Jennifer Hartwell, M. Ed.
1. A little fear Means you're probably about to do something important.
2. What you say to others is as important as what you do for others.
3. Your ability to serve others is only as deep as your willingness to believe in them.
4. It is possible to be both positive and realistic.

When you are struggling in your personal, academic or professional life it's important to take a step back and get a new perspective on thing.  If you have goals and dreams but don't seem to be getting closer because you are stuck, ask yourself "What do I need to know in order to accomplish this?"  In a world focused on "Selfies" its hard to remember that we are all part of a bigger community.  Where do you fit into your community?  Who is in your community?  Reach out you have a network of supports that can help you get through your struggles, they have probably been there before. 

More amazing quotes I took from Jennifer's presentation.
"A service driven life makes you realize that it's through kindness that we make real change."
"My GPA does not reflect my aptitude."
"In life building a career is like building a house, and your education is your front door." (from one of her favorite professors)
"I am supposed to be here.  So are you."


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